After exhaustive research (reading the AlfaBB), I've determined the reason my brakes suck is not because of mis-adjustment, worn pads or air bubbles, but because they're just plain bad. Old, tired, and unsafe. The ATE rears have a tendency for the piston's dust caps to disintegrate, allowing water into the cylinder, causing all sorts of malaise, the symptoms of which I experience every time I put my foot down. Pulsing, loss of pressure, squealing, sticking, etc.
According to the experts, the process of removing, rebuilding, and adjusting the rears is possibly the most aggravating job you can do on a GTV6, and that's saying something. For those interested, here's a step-by-step.
An Italian specialty shop, Performatek, offers rebuilt ATE calipers for $130 a pop, not including a refundable $70 core charge for the originals. They have a great reputation, and come ready to install with pads, and fully set up and adjusted.
On the other hand, Rock Auto has rears for $50 a pop. The quality is definitely not as high, and they aren't even finished, so I'd need to paint them gold. Not a hard job, but more time. Adjusting them on the bench might not be too onerous. They also don't come with pads, which is another $40 or so for all 4. All together, half the cost of going through Performatek. Even still, money I don't really have at the moment.
Another option is PBM Performance. They'r ePorsche specialists, but also restore Alfa brakes. No estimate from them yet, but I anticipate around Performatek's, given the costs associated with the Porsche brakes. They also do a full refinishing job!
I don't race the car or even drive it all that much. Still, I think I'd feel not great about using cut-rate parts. I guess. I don't know. My budget is blown.
Of course, the biggest issue is time. Now that I have 2 kids, I have virtually no free time. I usually have to take a day off work to get anything done on the car, which is why I'm inclined to spend money on rebuilt calipers instead of doing it myself. I do plan to rebuild the fronts myself, which is allegedly a breeze and only $20 in parts.
Any other suggestions for shops that rebuild brakes? Any Alfisti out there have other recommendations? And what say you on the cut-rate Rock Auto option? I consider safety equipment essential before I actually drive the car, although if I'm comfortable after a short jaunt I might drive it up to my mechanic for a thorough safety check.